Guitarist, singer/songwriter Boz Scaggs has been recording and performing steadily since his debuts with the Steve Miller Band in the 1960s. And judging from his set under the Blues Tent on the second day of Jazz Fest, he doesn’t plan on slowing down.
Scaggs charmed the crowd early on with his mellow rendition of Willy Deville’s “Mixed Up, Shook Up Girl,” only to switch gears and introduce a heavy road blues. The tender storyteller was replaced with a gritty blues soloist with a slick delivery.
While switching to another flamboyant guitar, Scaggs told the audience about his childhood in a farmtown of Texas, where he discovered New Orleans music through the radio airwaves from Louisiana. Accordingly he dove into Li’l Millet’s “Rich Woman,” another blues with a Creole spice.
Having flattered his New Orleans audience, Scaggs started pulling from his five-times platinum 1976 release Silk Degrees and picked the catchy, nostalgic “Georgia.”
The rejuvenated star then took a step back to feature his backup vocalist, Ms. Monét, who brought in a whole new spectrum of emotions with Aretha Franklin’s “Until You Come Back To Me.” Monét’s grand finish hitting the highest notes imaginable brought a whole new life to an already ecstatic crowd. Out of breath, the vocalist wiped a tear, thanked Scaggs and stepped back.
Catching the audience off guard, Scaggs plunged it into the next decade, as the introduction to his 1980 hit “Look What You’ve Done to Me,” rolled in. That’s when the man standing next to me grabbed my arm and instructed me, with a glimmer in his eye: “If you take this, you spin that on vinyl in, say, 1984… The panties come off really easily.”
Putting all fanciful romance aside, the band decided to get the festers dancing. And they did just that, grinding through a groovy blues. Fingers started flying up and the tent progressively rose to its feet.
Those who were still sitting quickly joined the movement when Scaggs took everyone to his party anthem from Silk Degrees, “Lido Shuffle.” Not many were those who did not participate in chanting the chorus in ecstasy.
The musicians left the stage at this high point, but were quickly brought back for an encore, which started with the disco-flavored “What Can I Say.”
The band members really showed off their chops one last time with a slow blues, winding the mood down with a calm yet powerful Hammond B3 organ introduction leading into Scaggs’ “Lowdown.”
After another Louisiana song as a last gesture of gratitude to the city who welcomed him with such a vibrant crowd, Scaggs stepped off, concluding another successful day at the Fairgrounds.